Choosing Hazardous substance storage cabinets

When you first look at the vast range of hazardous storage cabinets you may be forgiven for asking why so many and what’s the difference. On the face of it all the cabinets are COSHH compliant i.e they meet the basic requirements of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations so why not go for a basic COSHH cabinet rather than the substance specific options for flammables, pesticides and acid and alkali’s?

The first question to answer is what specific types and how much of these hazardous substances do you have to secure to comply with COSHH legislation. Secondly you need to be aware of the dangers of storing incompatible substances in the same cabinet. Acids do not go with alkali’s and flammables should be segregated from all other hazards. Aggressive and toxic chemicals such as systemic agricultural pesticides are a direct hazard to health and are subject to additional controls, some requiring licences to store and use. In extreme cases, particularly involving bio hazards specialist cabinets to BS EN14470-1 may be required.

The substance specific cabinets offer more protection and are not just different coloured versions of the same cabinet. Flammable storage cabinets have deep spill tray shelves and deep sumps with welded seams to prevent leakage. Rebated doors prevent accidental exposure to naked flames. An Acid and Alkali cabinet has similar features but are made from Zintec steel for added corrosion resistance. Pesticide Storage cabinets also feature additional louvred ventilation to prevent the build-up of toxic fumes and have galvanised steel rather than powder coated shelves. Of course all the cabinets have hazard specific corrosion resistant powder coated finish, quality key locking for access control and security and hazard specific warning labels.

For those storing hazardous substances on site the different colour coded finishes provide a further benefit in an emergency – particularly a fire emergency – as irrespective of the warning label the fire and rescue services can quickly identify at a distance the type and location of any hazardous materials present. Storing different types of hazardous substances in the same anonymous Cabinet is a hazard in itself so assess the risks carefully and make the right safety choices.

Safety a priority for Fuel Storage

Safety concerns regarding the storage of flammable liquids hit the headlines following the threat of industrial action by fuel tanker drivers. After official advice was broadcast to stockpile a reserve supply the press went into a feeding frenzy when a woman was badly burned whilst decanting petrol into a container in her kitchen whilst a gas ring was lit.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Ministerial advice to have an gallon or two of fuel put by for emergencies, the case of the injured woman highlights a general lack of public understanding of the safety risks attached to the handling and storage of flammable substances both in the home but also in businesses.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service was one of many fire services that strongly urged homeowners not to store petrol because of these risks, but in practice a great many homeowners, myself included routinely store at least a gallon of fuel either for lawn mowers or for self-drive holidays and excursions, as an emergency reserve should the tank run low with no filling station in reach.

The issue of storing flammable liquids safely is not just about car fuel. Many proprietary off the shelf cleaning products, solvents, varnishes and paints found around the home are hydrocarbon based and are also a potential fire risk. In the right concentrations it is the invisible vapours from these products that are first to ignite and all it takes is one spark, a lit cigarette or a lit gas ring to cause an explosion and fire.
If you wish to store a small reserve of fuel there is no reason legal or otherwise why you should not, provided you put safety first. Legally you can store up to 30 litres in two suitable metal containers each of a maximum capacity of ten litres and two plastic containers (which have to be of an approved design) each of a maximum capacity of five litres. These limits also apply to any containers kept in your vehicle when parked in the garage or on the driveway

Having up to four fuel containers kicking around the garage is not a good idea. Having flammable cabinets in a secure garage or stored away from the main dwelling gives the volume capacity to allow you to store all your flammable products in one secure location. The cabinets are designed to protect the contents from accidental contact with heat sources and have spill retention trays and sumps to contain any leaks from containers. All our COSHH rated fire safety storage cabinets have the approved fire hazard label and security locks to prevent unauthorised access and keep inquisitive children at bay.

 

Using flammable liquids? Your storage cabinet is key.

When working with flammable liquids – regardless of the facility – it is vitally important to have safety as your paramount concern. Although this may seem logical in principal, it isn’t something that is always adhered to – a good majority of fires in industrial environments are caused because the appropriate steps haven’t been taken to store flammable liquids safely.

Many may avoid the special flammable cabinets – designed to house the liquids in a safe manner – purely because of their cost.

Even though there is a cost involved, it is important not to try and cut corners with a cheaper version; this kind of behaviour is not recommended when it comes down to safety measures.

Flammable cabinets protect liquids in two crucial ways, the first ensures that any leakages are prevented from spreading outside the cabinet, and the second prevents the liquids from setting alight if a fire does happen to occur.

While in the short term, buying a flammable cabinet involves investment, in the long term it can be ensured that the hazardous risk is minimised significantly.